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Written by / 5/22/2013 / 2 Comments / , , , , , , ,

MICHAEL SHANNON IS THE ICEMAN

year: 2013 cast: Michael Shannon, Chris Evans, Ray Liotta, Wionna Ryder rating: **
This true life crime melodrama is a very… mellow… drama about a hit man known as The Iceman played by Michael Shannon who, looking a cross between Jack Lord and Richard Kiel had they both morphed into Frankenstein’s monster, was a real tough cookie: Beginning as a sound editor in the pornography business, and then working for temperamental mob boss Roy Demeo, our central character Richard Kuklinski never had a prayer to do anything else for a living. Immensely cold and stealthily calculating, he has what it takes to be a hit man, something Demeo (Ray Liotta) sees in him right away. The first couple hits are pretty intense but not very suspenseful. With somber music orchestrating each scene – the mechanics of a lost soul given its own melancholy dirge – and sporadic ultra violent montages, we never get too up close and personal into the bloody reality of Kuklinski’s profession, at least not right away.

The twist here is that Kuklinski has a family while working as a hit man. Enter Wionna Ryder as his soft-spoken passive wife, Deborah, supposedly oblivious to her husband's occupation. With two beautiful daughters, the Kuklinski clan seems like a Norman Rockwell painting. But the family scenes spend too much time wallowing in a contrived sense of irony, never standing out on their own merit. Until the mobsters hit too close to home, and Kuklinski begins showing his dark side in front of the wife and kids, allowing Michael Shannon to emote past an otherwise limited steely countenance. One particular scene, after Kuklinski lets a seventeen-year-old girl witness go unharmed, and then attempts to protect her from a fellow hit man named Mr. Freezy (played by Chris Evans, who would introduce him to the art of freezing victims to thwart the cop’s timetable), shows us a vulnerable side missing in the segments with family and friends. This also provides a Film Noir aspect of a killer with a kind heart beating, somewhere. But like some of the duller Noirs, there’s more style than substance going on.

Kuklinski’s gig wasn’t a short one. The searing biopic zooms from the sixties to the eighties through music and distinguishing hairstyles and mustaches all sizes, yet there’s never a sense of importance in any decade. That is, we never stick in one place long enough for anything to really matter.
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2 comments:

  1. I've heard and read about the Iceman's story for quite some time, have seen interviews, heard interviews with him. I have always been fascinated by him and his story. I just heard about this movie a couple days ago. I suppose I'll have to run out and see it.

    Good review as always.

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  2. I bet a documentary would be better than the movie.

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